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USSTRATCOM (United States Strategic Command)

USSTRATCOM (United States Strategic Command)

United States Strategic Command, or USSTRATCOM, was formed by a 2002 merger between the Air Force Strategic Command and the U.S. Space Command. Located at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, USSTRATCOM is one of nine unified commands in the Department of Defense. It serves as the command and control center for U.S. strategic forces, as well as military space operations, including the operation of military satellites. In its function as a strategic command center, it is responsible both for early warning against missile attack, as well as the launch of missiles in response.

The Strategic Command portion of USSTRATCOM had its beginnings in March 1946, with the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Offutt. At the height of the Cold War, Offutt was the command center for the defense "triad": the strategic bombers and ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) of the Air Force, and the U.S. Navy's submarine-launched ballistic missiles. On June 1, 1992, with the Cold War over, SAC and the Navy's Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff merged as the U.S. Strategic Command. Thenceforth, all planning, targeting, and wartime deployment of strategic forces would be under a single command, while the day-to-day operations remained with the respective services.

The U.S. Space Command had its roots in the military launches that began in the wake of the Soviets' deployment of the Sputnik satellite in 1957. The most visible portions of the space program were the Pioneer and Apollo programs, but Army, Navy, and Air Force activities in space continued throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In September 1985, the Joint Chiefs of Staff created the U.S. Space Command to unify these efforts. During the Persian Gulf War and other military engagements of the 1990s, satellites under the Space Command assisted in surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting.

USSTRATCOM, established on October 1, 2002, is responsible both for early warning and defense against missile attack and long-range conventional attacks. It is also charged with deterring and defending against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Some 2,500 personnel, representing all four services, along with Department of Defense civilians and contractors, work at the command center. Located in the Underground Command Complex at Offutt, a two-level, 14,000-square-foot (1,301 square mile) reinforced concrete and steel structure, the Command Center is housed alongside the Intelligence Operations Center, Weather Support Center, Force Status Readiness Center, and other support offices.

FURTHER READING:

PERIODICALS:

Clinton, William J. "Remarks on Arrival at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska." Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents 36, no. 50 (December 18, 2000):3041.

Garth, Jeff. "Retired General to Oversee Nuclear Weapons Labs." New York Times. (June 17, 1999): A15.

Gordon, Michael R. "U.S. Arsenal: Treaties vs. Nontreaties." New York Times. (November 14, 2001): A12.

Myers, Steven Lee. "U.S. 'Updates' All-Out Atom War Guidelines." New York Times. (December 8, 1997): A3.

ELECTRONIC:

United States Strategic Command. <http://www.stratcom.af.mil/> (March 28, 2003).

SEE ALSO

Ballistic Missiles
DoD (United States Department of Defense)
Nuclear Weapons
Satellites, Spy

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